Well, February is over and March has begun; spring is right around the corner. Yay! I am not a big fan of winter. To celebrate, I finally tossed out three bags of clutter from my Closet of Doom last week! And felt about a million tons lighter. I donated a big bag of clothing to church, five unopened boxes of little girl crafts to our local Boys & Girls Club and a box filled with gently used books and media to the town library. Though I still have more stuff to clear out and unload (both tangible and intangible), that first step of the process was already totally cathartic.
How about you? Did you let anything go last week? Not just the regular trash, but something that you've let hang around for far too long. Tangibles like old DVDs, clothes, cookbooks? Intangibles like perfection, negativity, limitations?
Let's take one more stab at this. Here are 8 ideas for things you can let go of RIGHT NOW. You heard me. RIGHT.NOW.
1) Perfection and control The need for perfection and control can immobilize the best of us Type A people. Control the dust, control the laundry, control the dishes. Perfect the evening meal, perfect the ironing, perfect the grocery list. Control what the kids eat for lunch, your inbox at work, everyone's TV time. Perfect hair nails and make up, the workout routine, the home decor.
Listen, I totally get ALL of that. As the Home & Family CEO, you've got crazy amounts of to-do's on your plate. But please allow me to suggest a quick remedy:
Forget about it for once! Have some fun! LET IT GO!
Read a book, make a photo album, take a walk. The dust/dishes/laundry are not going anywhere, trust me, they will wait for you. Tonight, don't worry so much about dinner -- if it's edible and nutritious, that is 98% awesome. And that is awesome enough!
2) Being right all the time Sometimes, the pressure to be right just blows everything else out of proportion. Being right uses up a whole lot of time and energy, doesn't it? Check this related quote, it's one I really love:
"If you wait to do everything until you’re sure it’s right, you’ll probably never do much of anything." - Win Borden
Here's a thought: Let someone else be right for a change and see what happens. Taking small chances like that can really open your eyes to new perspectives. Today, challenge yourself to listen to someone else's version of right. At least once.
3) Negativity/clutter/toxicity It's all the same. Negative Nellie = clutter = toxicity. It's a very logical equation. If you've just started reading my newsletter, you may have missed my ongoing conversations with my toxic inner voices: Negative Nellie, Self-Righteous Sarah and Lizard-Brain Liz (see my post from November 2011, "Step One"). We all have our own versions of them and they all suck and they all clamor to clutter up our minds with their noisy nonsense.
But I've made it a habit to tune them all out (for the most part) with positive statements and gratitude. The moment I start thinking, "Ugh, I really don't want to get up so early again today," that is the moment when I flip the switch, shake my head and tell myself, "STOP! I am super grateful for another day on this Earth to spend with my daughter." And I go from there.
Try banging that one out tomorrow morning. When you notice a negative thought entering your head, just stop and tell yourself what you're feeling grateful for.
4) People pleasing Yeah I've been guilty of this little number many times over the years. First born girl, Type A, you know the deal. I am still wrestling with this monkey on my back, working tirelessly to throw it off whenever possible. I still bite my tongue more often than I should, apologize more often than necessary and bypass all manner of golden opportunities to speak my mind. But I've gotten much better at standing up for what I believe is right. And I'm not afraid of conflict, never have been.
How about you? Do you bend over backwards to accommodate others too often? Is yes your favorite word? My antidote is practicing ruthless honesty. You don't have to be rude, just honest. If you don't like something, say so. If you feel strongly about something, say so.
PS: The extra benefit from this exercise is increased confidence. =)
5) Mistake-itis I don't know about you, but I absolutely HATE making mistakes! (see above, #1... uh, and a little bit of #2... *sigh*) Mistakes are tough to take. But they are also fab teachers, when we decide to pay attention to them. Paralysis due to fear of making mistakes can be eliminated with some confidence boosting exercises (see above, #4). Paying attention to patterns of mistakes we tend to repeat can help us eliminate some mistakes entirely, as in: Make mistake, pay attention to pattern, do NOT repeat.
One way to avoid making some mistakes is to concentrate on clear communication. Listen. Pay attention. State objectives clearly. Don't rush things. Do one thing at a time, don't multi-task unless absolutely necessary. Breathe. It really helps!
6) Stuff envy Wanting the latest gadget, the newest car, the trendiest shoes (scratch that, not shoes, we are not letting go of trendy shoes, sorry), the fad diet, whatever -- all of that just leads to wanting more of all of it. Kind of like how eating sugar or drinking coffee just makes you want more of the same. Freedom from stuff envy in our consumer culture poses a very big challenge, but working on it can quiet some of the noise in your head.
Just be yourself like Oscar Wilde says, because "everyone else is already taken." Also, read some more of Leo Babauta's simple living posts at Zen Habits. Really great stuff.
7) Limitations "The mind that perceives the limitation is the limitation." - Buddha "If you think you can do a thing or think you can't do a thing, you're right." - Henry Ford
Need I say more?
Quick tip: Drop and do ten push-ups. Betcha can!
8) Fear I talk about facing and taming fear pretty often. Remember my post from October 2011, "Who's Afraid of the Dark?" Then there was the January 2012 post, "Tame Your Fear of Failure". Fear can paralyze us (see above, #5, "paralysis due to fear") and keep us from achieving our goals. It must be squashed!
But Pam, I hear you pleading with me, how can I squash FEAR?? It's so big and... SCARY!
Well, it's not easy, but it is simple: Take action. Reread my post from January 2012, "How to Get Out of Your Comfort Zone in 8 Easy Steps." Take one baby step TOWARD your fear, toward exactly the thing you are afraid of. Every day.
"Do one thing every day that scares you." - Eleanor Roosevelt
If you do nothing else, do #8. It will build your confidence level enormously. If you need help with this, give me a call! If you know someone else who needs help with this, feel free to forward this email newsletter to them.
I repeat: Seriously. What have you got to lose?